Alabama governor booked on 2 misdemeanors

Robert Bentley resigned today after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges, ending two years of scandal and intrigue that resulted from an affair with one of his top political advisors.

Bentley had vowed as recently as Friday not to resign, saying he had done nothing illegal. He was charged with failing to file a major contribution report and converting campaign contributions to personal use, according to the Times.

Bentley denied having a physical relationship with his former aide, though in some of the recordings he talked about the pleasure he got from fondling her breasts. The other charge stemmed from his use of campaign funds to pay almost $9,000 in legal bills for political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason previous year. The former governor's lawyers had said the money was for legal representation as the Alabama Ethics Commission considered the appropriateness of gubernatorial staffers, including Mason, being paid by outside sources instead of being on state payroll.

Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey was sworn in as the 54th governor at 6 p.m. During her eight years in office, Ivey modernized the Treasury Department by putting the state's revenues and expenditures online for the public to see and by modernizing the office's technology.

The Alabama Republican Party on Sunday called for Bentley to step down.

On Monday afternoon, Bentley was booked into Montgomery County Jail on two misdemeanor campaign finance charges.

Before her career in politics, she worked as a banker, assistant hospital administrator, high school teacher, and served as a Alabama House of Representatives reading clerk and assistant director of the Department of Commerce.

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Her first run for political office came as the Democratic candidate for State Auditor in 1982.

Alabama's first female governor was Lurleen Wallace, wife of four-term Gov. George C. Wallace. "He said Bentley 'encouraged an atmosphere of intimidation" to ensure the silence of his staff. Mason, who at first insisted she was the victim of gender bias, nevertheless resigned her position as senior political adviser as the scandal intensified.

The committee on Monday started what was expected to be days of hearings.

Republicans control both U.S. Senate seats as well as six of the seven House districts in the state.

Bentley announced the resignation at the State Capitol, but mentioned neither the recent charges nor the fact that his plea agreement mandated him to leave office. Sharman says the governor's former wife turned over others.

March 2014: First lady Dianne Bentley secretly records phone call between Bentley and a woman, presumably aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

Jack Sharman, the special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, began his opening arguments Monday against Bentley, mainly outlining the history of impeachment and the Alabama Constitution's somewhat hazy description of it.

  • Sonia Alvarado